As the 40th Anniversary of the Transformers franchise is just a couple of years away, I look back and wonder just why is it still so popular? But more than that, why are kids shows and toy ranges from the 80s generally still as popular today? Many are seeing a revival, getting new toy lines, video games or seeing new TV shows either through streaming services or mainstream networks. But why is this happening?
There’s no denying the fact that the core Transformers fan base is getting older. Many of those who are active – buying the more collectible toys, attending conventions and having more disposable income – are those who grew up with the show when it first aired. These are the fans who saw Transformers in its infancy when there was nothing else other than G1 on our TV screens. Most of them would have pleaded with their parents to get Optimus Prime or countless other toys for Christmas, would have read the original Marvel comics… basically would have been with it from day one.
It’s A Kid Thing
But growing up back in the 80s, we were spoiled for choice. As well as Transformers we were also introduced to the wonders of Masters Of The Universe, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, GI Joe, and far more than I could list here. And here we are decades later – Masters Of The Universe has been rebooted courtest of Netflix. TMNT has seen several animated shows over the years thanks to Nickelodeon. GI Joe has also seen its lifespan extended through new toys, comics and three motion pictures.
What Makes Them So Appealing?
As a Transformers fan, we’re obviously going to collect toys, merchandise etc. While we may not all collect the same things, we will spend our money on some things connected to the brand. For many fans, not only do we love the characters and storylines, it’s a connection to our childhood. Many of us have fond memories of toys we used to own (or still do) and buying those same toys again brings back fond memories. In a way, those childhood memories helps take away the worries and troubles of daily life. It gives us a much needed escape.
The same applies to other shows from the same era though. Anything that we remember from a time when we were growing up is likely to create that same sense of comfort and happiness, even if the shows themselves have aged badly. While we will have that one favourite that we will cling on to dearly, there’s nothing stopping us from enjoying a wide range of shows from our youth and collecting a diverse range of merchandise from several.
In all honesty, if you talk to most Transformers fans, they’ll admit to collecting merchandise and being fans of a lot of shows and franchises from the 80s. Those of a younger age group who got into Transformers later (through Beast Wars or even the live action movies) may have leanings towards brands from those decades “their” Transformers originated in, but for the most part, we’re all 80s kids at heart.
I have to admit that personally I’d already hit my teenage years when Transformers came along. So for me it was anything from the 70s that was my thing (and even shows from the 60s that were in re-runs). So I’ve always been drawn to Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, Blake’s Seven and the works of Gerry Anderson as well as video games (my main passion). Transformers, for me at least, didn’t come along until I hit my mid 20s and I started to watch Beast Wars.
What Will The Future Hold?
The 80s was a special time for all of us. Even though a lot of shows were created specifically to sell us toys, there were some truly great and original ideas out there. Despite the fact that storytelling has become far more complex and we’re getting higher quality acting and script writing in our shows, and better quality toys, there was a certain charm about the toys and shows of the 80s. Yes, a lot of it was cheesy but boy did we have fun watching them!